Tendani Mpulubusi El Selected as the DC Film Office August Filmmaker of the Month

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tendani Mpulubusi El Selected as the DC Film Office August Filmmaker of the Month

The District of Columbia Office of Motion Picture and Television Development is pleased to announce Tendani Mpulubusi El, creator and director of documentary “People Past and Present: Hillsdale,” as its August Filmmaker of the Month.

Tendani Mpulubusi El is a multi-disciplined artist, filmmaker, musician and teacher who has used his talents to give voice to his community for more than seven years. He is best known for his work a documentary entitled “People Past and Present: Hillsdale,” which explores the founding of Barry Farm, a historic community in the District. His work has been featured in many news publications and television broadcasts such as the Washington Post and Fox 5 News.

In addition to his work as an artist, he actively engages his community in his roles as founder of the People Past & Present Project, founder of EastoftheRiverArts.com, and lead creative consultant to the Pearl Coalition. He also and works with local government to connect District residents with opportunities for advancement and serves as Arts Commissioner for the District’s Ward 8.

While mentoring and volunteering to teach youth art at the Barry Farm Resident Council Community Center, Tendani discovered a piece of little known American history and was inspired by the story of how the Barry Farm community was founded. Tendani worked with Kalfani Ture, a professor of anthropology who became the lead researcher for his project, and began conducting some personal research and on camera interviews with local historians and members of the community to capture an oral history supported with scholarship and professional research.

The project gained support from the grassroots community, the Barry Farm Resident Council, Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, Ward 8 Youth Leadership Council, Humanities Council of Washington DC, The Pearl Coalition, and many others along the way. The film was originally entitled "Barry Farm: Past & Present" and later was changed to “People Past & Present: Hillsdale” to be more inclusive of the entire historic community, not just the Barry Farm Housing Projects.

Since the premiere screening at the Historical Society of Washington, the film has been screened at a variety of theatres, colleges and government agencies throughout the city and has aired on Comcast and Verizon cable networks during black history month and beyond. Tendani has been invited as a guest to lead discussions at numerous events and roundtables that focus on issues addressed in his documentary. According to the Historic Society of Washington, the film is “a riveting documentary of a former prominent community east of the river that’s weathering a storm of socioeconomic challenges.”

The DC Film Office launched the Filmmaker of the Month initiative to feature a District-based filmmaker who exemplifies the vast amount of talent and creativity based here in the nation’s capital. The Filmmaker of the Month initiative is part of its mission to elevate the national and international profile of the city’s most talented filmmakers. Previous filmmakers honored include “Money Matters” director Ryan Richmond, “The West Wing” producer Jonathan Zurer, Jezebel Filmworks founder Ada Babino, and “Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden” web series creator Otessa Ghadar.

You can visit the August Filmmaker of the Month section to learn more about Tendani.